Release funds for healthcare workers ASAP
The pitiful condition of health care workers (HCWs) prevails — underpaid, overworked, underappreciated, overused, and other under/over adjectives you can think of. There were strides made over the years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the miseries of health care workers once again.
The disbursement of the special risk allowance (SRAs) for health care workers has been problematic. Though repeatedly hailed as heroes of this pandemic, a significant number of health care workers lost the battle to the virus early on. It is frustrating, disappointing, and heartbreaking to learn via the Senate hearing last week that the Department of Health had a big chunk of the unused budget that was turned over to the Department of Budget and Management. This budget could have been disbursed as SRAs to medical frontliners, particularly those in the hospitals with COVID-19 wards/facilities.
Nurses in both government and private hospitals are being spread thin by their hospital management in order to cope with the increasing number of COVID-19 admissions. According to a friend who works as a nurse at a private hospital, a significant number of their staff nurses have resigned due to extreme physical and economic fatigue. My friend said they have resorted to requesting relatives of patients to “ambu bag” their patients since they are understaffed, and that they would not be able to cope with the influx of COVID-19 in the event of another surge.
I do hope and pray that something concrete will come out from the Senate hearings. I also pray that the pronouncements of President Duterte to expedite the release of SRAs to HCWs within 10 days will not remain as that — pronouncements.
PAMELA I. CLAVERIA, M.D.
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